3 Major Warning Signs of a Data Breach

Wednesday, April 12, 2023 3:51 pm, Posted by Absolute Destruction

Being able to identify and red flag a data breach in its early stages is one of the most effective lines of defence in protecting your clients, your employees, your business and its assets. In best-case scenarios, you'll spot the warning signs and respond quickly and effectively to prevent someone from trying to access your data with ill intent.

Today, we will highlight three major warning signs of a data breach and how we can help you protect your company from potential security risks such as these.

But first, what exactly is a data breach?

What Is a Data Breach?

A data breach is where an individual — sometimes known as a hacker — gains unauthorized access to a company’s files and internal operating systems. Once they have gained access, they may use the information that’s available to them to steal, corrupt, blackmail, deny access or sell. In some cases, a data breach may happen quietly, meaning that the data owner is unaware of the encroachment.

Being acutely aware of changes to company data is key in protecting yourself from a data breach. Here are just three of the major warning signs and a few ways to protect yourself from an electronic data breach.

1. Slower Than Usual Devices or Internet

It's important to flag slower-than-average devices or lagging internet connections, both of which could be a sign of a data breach. Slower than usual systems could indicate that cybercriminals are flooding the system themselves or that they have planted viruses or malware. Malware is software that causes interference to either a targeted machine, server, or network.

During team training, iterate the importance of letting the tech or IT department know if they’re experiencing abnormally long wait times on their devices or on the company internet.

2. Modified Files or Suspicious Files

Hackers may infiltrate a company’s network and modify, erase, or copy its critical system files. This can happen incredibly quickly and can go undetected for a long time.

To mitigate the potential of a hacker gaining access and modifying files, companies should implement proactive 24/7 monitoring. This enables the identification of file modification in real-time, empowering the tech team to then establish if these changes were made by a team member — either intentionally, or by accident — or by an external source.

3. Locked Files and Accounts

Another telltale sign of a data breach is locked company accounts. Here, hackers will have gained access to employee programs and accounts by deploying phishing scams — in other words, they’ve sent falsified emails to team members asking for access under the guise of sincere communication, or a colleague. Hackers can then install malware and hold files and accounts for ransom until a fee is paid.

Multi-factor authorization is a great way to improve your cybersecurity. With multi-factor authentication, team members must provide multiple pieces of information to gain access to files and accounts. Further, educating team members on how phishing scams work, and how to identify them, are two great precautionary measures.

The Bottom Line

While these are not the only ways to detect a data breach, they’re some of the most common. Some are detectable only by a trained IT team, while others can be flagged by educated team members.

Another important consideration when strengthening and reviewing a company’s cyber security policy is the proper disposal of old hardware, such as computers, USBs, cell phones, laptops, and tablets. These devices may still hold sensitive company data, which you don't want to fall into the wrong hands. The destruction of such devices is critical to protecting yourself and your company from a potential data breach. That’s why we proudly offer secure data destruction — physically and safely destroying sensitive data from all hardware.

Not only will a data breach affect a company’s image — leading to wavering employee and client confidence and a sullied public perception — but it will also cost money. According to a study by IMB, the average cost of one compromised record to businesses in Canada was $298, with the financial sector paying $520 per single compromised record.

Connect with our team today to learn more about data destruction. We’re always happy to help.

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